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Turkey arrests lawyer and LGBT+ activist in early morning raid

Joseph McCormick November 14, 2016

An LGBT+ activist and lawyer has been arrested in Turkey alongside members of his political party which is the only in the country to have pro-LGBT+ policies.

The HDP’s Istanbul Provincial Executor Levent Piskin was detained in prison.

He previously visited HPD Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş who was arrested last week.

The pro-Kurdish HDP is the only major political party in Turkey which has pro-LGBT policies.

Piskin, a lawyer, was arrested at 5am this morning.

According to reports, some of his belongings were also taken as he was detained.

A member of the Özgürlükçü Hukukçular Derneği (ÖHD), Piskin is known for his human rights work.

The OHD released a statement saying: “Our member, HDP Province Co-chair and lawyer Levent Pişkin was detained after he was targeted by partisan media with an early morning police raid.”

The leader of the pro-Kurdish HDP in Turkey was last week held alongside at least 11 MPs in a crackdown following a political coup.

Back in April 2015, the HDP pledged to “end discrimination against LGBT people”, and to end social injustice.

The party also said it would tackle transphobia and homophobia in Turkey, where LGBT people often face discrimination and worse.
The HDP also put forward its first out gay election candidate Baris Sulu. Sulu was not selected as a nominee for November’s early election in 2015.

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair leader with Figen Yuksekdag, who was also arrested, and at least another 9 MPs were arrested after being reluctant to give testimoney for crimes relating to “terrorist propaganda”.

Raids also took place in the cities of Van and Bingöl.

The raids come following a failed coup in July, after which Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım spoke out to say elected officials who “encourage terrorism” should face charges.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been accused of attempting to consolidate his power ahead of parliamentary votes in 2017.

There will also be a referendum seeking to re-write the Turkish constitution to change the system from a parliamentary democracy into a presidential system.

A German MEP was among some 19 who were detained for holding a Pride demonstration in Istanbul despite a Government ban.

The demonstration went ahead despite the organisers of Istanbul Pride having issued a statement calling off the demonstration citing security concerns as well as a Government ban.

Organisers tweeted to say that at least 19 people had been detained.

Officials in Turkey earlier in the year ordered that the capital’s Pride parade be cancelled – claiming the ban was because of ‘security’ concerns following a mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando which left 49 dead.

When demonstrators took to the streets, over 300 police officers were deployed to the scene in riot gear. A water cannon was also seen at the site of the march.

According to reports, one man tore up a pro gay-rights banner.

During a “scuffle” as was described by the BBC, police opened fire with tear gas, using rubber bullets.

Last year’s Istanbul Pride was also forcibly dispersed by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.

More: Europe, Selahattin Demirtaş, Turkey, Turkey

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